The debate about healthcare is on everyone’s tongue these days. However, Jack McConnell, decided to give me than lip service, and took a hands on approach to help his fellow Americans without health insurance, and gave a new sense of purpose to his fellow retired medical professionals.
After retiring, Dr. McConnell moved to Hilton Head, SC to relax and enjoy a couple rounds of golf. He would often offer rides to “locals” walking to and from work as landscapers, construction workers, and restaurant servers. Being a former medical professional, he naturally asked them about their healthcare coverage. Much to his surprise, he discovered most didn’t have any healthcare or access to health insurance from their employer. They also could not afford to purchase health insurance on their own. Further inquiry revealed that one third of the island’s population, twice the national average, had no access to healthcare.
At the same time he began making friends with a number of former medical professionals who had retired on Hilton Head, but longed for the opportunity to practice medicine again. Putting two and two together, McConnell started the first Volunteers In Medicine (VIM) clinic. Retired medical professionals could provide healthcare for those without access for free, while gaining a sense of fulfillment from helping others.
The clinic McConnell started in Hilton Head, SC, has grown into a national organization that aids people in over 72 communities in 24 states, receiving care from retired and active medical professionals, and community volunteers. They provide primary care for thousands of uninsured people without the use of federal funds. Volunteers in Medicine clinics dramatically reduce overloaded emergency rooms and unnecessary hospital admissions, ease primary care physician shortage by mobilizing retired physicians, and allow physicians to practice “pure medicine”.
Growing up, every night at the dinner table, Dr. McConnell’s father would ask, “What have you done for someone today?”. Today, through the thousands of doctors, patients, and volunteers affected by VIM, he can say he’s done more than his share.